Recycling … It’s not what you think

*Post written by Mona Meyer, Archives and Special Collections Metadata Librarian.

Recycling is a hot topic today–there’s a lot of concern about our air, our water, our atmosphere, even Earth itself.  If you live within the city of Evansville, every other week curbside recycling pick-up is part of your water and sewer utility bill. USI promotes it—surely you’ve seen a blue “We Recycle” bin in an office or public area.

Paper, glass, plastic, and aluminum are not the only things that can be recycled, however.  Ever thought about a building being recycled? Does a building have to be torn do when its original tenant leaves? Could it be used for a new purpose? Granted, it can be financially challenging to retrofit an old building for today’s needs, but it’s not impossible. Evansville’s Greyhound bus station is a stellar example of what can happen when there’s a will to find a way.

Located at the corner of NW 3rd St. and Sycamore St., this Art Deco beauty was built 1938-1939.

RH 033-214

Greyhound bus terminal in Evansville, Indiana, c. 1960. Source: Regional Postcards collection, RH 033-214.

The 1930s were the heyday of bus travel. America was still struggling with the Depression, so money for travel, if it existed at all, was tight. In 1939 the average car cost $700.00; before you think, “what a great deal!,” consider that the average yearly income was only $1,730.00.  Roads were not that great, either—the Federal-Aid Highway Act, which kick-started our interstate highway system, was not passed until 1956. The average Joe, if he traveled from Evansville at all, may have started off here.

Vendome Hotel (center) and the Greyhound Bus Station (right) at NW Third Street and Sycamore Street in Evansville, Indiana, 1946. Source: Tom Mueller collection, MSS 264-0454.

Vendome Hotel (center) and the Greyhound Bus Station (right) at NW Third Street and Sycamore Street in Evansville, Indiana, 1946. Source: Tom Mueller collection, MSS 264-0454.

Take a closer look at this picture and notice the taxis lined up outside the station to take passengers to their final Evansville destination. Note that overnight guests could stay at the Vendome Hotel, just across the street.

Times change, and so do travel needs. More and more people purchased cars, roads improved, and airlines became more popular. People began to travel more, but they either transported themselves or they flew. Greyhound had 4,750 stations prior to WWII; today its website site gives the number as 230 “branded” stations, with other partner stops and curbside service. Circa 2007 Evansville closed its Greyhound station (little used for some time before that) and moved Greyhound operations to its city bus terminal.  The city gave the building to Indiana Landmarks in 2013.

After repair and restoration, including the re-lighting of the iconic running Greyhound atop the neon sign, Evansville’s 1930’s era Greyhound station was recycled into a restaurant. Bru Burger Bar opened in 2016, giving new life and purpose to a beloved building.  (Photo below courtesy of Indiana Landmarks.)

Entrance of Bru Burger restaurant, formerly the Greyhound Bus Station, n.d. Source: Indianalandmarks.org

Entrance of Bru Burger restaurant, formerly the Greyhound Bus Station, n.d. Source: Indianalandmarks.org

Resources consulted:

Indiana Landmarks: From Greyhound Station to Restaurant

The People History 1930s

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.  America by Air.

Vault Guide to the Top Transportation Industry Employers.  Vault, 2006.  Available online

This entry was posted in Architecture, Evansville, Indiana, Local history. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s